*Potential spoilers for everything involved with the topic character and their game.
Name: Squall Leonhart
Game: Final Fantasy VIII
Major Arcana: The Chariot – Squall is a character many of his classmates and teachers find difficult to understand, and The Chariot card is one of the more difficult ones to interpret. It indicates a unity of opposites, though with an emphasis on such a paradigm helping you get what you want. It also implies war, struggle, and ultimately a hard won victory over one’s enemies, and this fits Squall to a tee. He has this cold and aloof exterior, but like the adage says, “Still waters run deep.” His personal symbol is the lion and of course his last name “Leonhart” invokes the idea of being lionhearted i.e. courageous and strong. It seems anathema that he has a fiery and more sun associated symbol due to his cool exterior, but this of course feeds into the unity of opposites motif.
The Chariot rules over the zodiac sign of Cancer (which we’ll talk about more below), which is itself ruled by the moon; so once again we have a sun/moon, fire/water seeming incongruence, but it’s really just the matter of balancing them all out. Plus a water sign is great for someone named “Squall” who was came from people named Raine and Laguna (which could either refer to the word “lagoon” or the location Laguna Beach). Though Squall doesn’t understand why he’s suddenly thrust into a leadership position, he winds up being the perfect person for the job due to his inner conflicts and not despite.
Zodiac: Taurus with a Cancer moon – I think one of the reasons I’m so quick to defend Squall is because he’s a fellow Taurus, and I completely understand why he behaves in the manner presented. Tauruses not only don’t like change if it’s not on our terms, but we feel completely lost and uprooted when it happens. We will create a sort of a shell around ourselves to protect our tender hearts from the ravages of change and loss. This often makes it seem like we’re cold and aloof, but in reality it’s a way for us to protect ourselves against pain. We’re very good at picking up patterns, and if we’re constantly being hurt by the same things/situations, we’ll make sure we don’t open ourselves up to them, because we know what’s going to happen if we do.
Squall’s initial persona of not getting close to anyone or letting anyone in makes perfect sense viewed through this lens. It’s logic tied with emotion as in logic dictates that emotions exist, are uncontrollable, can be wild and unpredictable, and get you into trouble; therefore, you always have to be prepared as much as you possibly can; don’t expect things to go your way so that when they don’t, you’re not disappointed/crushed, and god forbid someone ask you if something’s wrong, though you can be prepared for this, too. The main MO of Taurus is preparation in all things and a thousand contingency plans.
Squall being seen as the perfect leader by Cid shows either the headmaster knows him well enough despite the aloof mask and/or Squall wasn’t as good at hiding it as he thought…which is another Taurus trait. Sometimes we’re 100% “certain” that no one knows what we’re thinking and feeling, because we think we’re that good, but we tend to feel so intensely about things that it leaks out despite our best efforts (how even people I swear I’ve never talked to about it know how I feel about FFVII, like what the hell?).
The Cancer moon makes all of this so much more intense. Tauruses are already emotional then you slap a water sign on top of it, and you have someone who clings to the memories of the past. This works both personally for Squall and the narrative of FFVIII as a whole, since Ellone’s power is the ability to send people into the past, which Squall eventually begs for her to help him change.
Cancer moons want peace and quiet, which of course Squall doesn’t get, and their attachment to what is safe means they’re leery of change just like his sun sign. Squall still clings to his memory of Ellone when he was alone in the orphanage. It’s his reoccurring dream, and I’m sure it’s not accident that her name is a homophone to the word. Because moon in Cancer people cling to the past, they can hold a grudge, which is just compounded when your sun sign is Taurus, though with us, it’s less of a grudge and more of a “I don’t fuck with you anymore, because you’re not worth my time.” His moon sign could explain why him and Seifer are always at each other’s throats (and it will be really interesting when I assess Mr. Almasy) where a Taurus without the Cancer influence wouldn’t even bother.
Since Cancer is a Cardinal sign (which means movable and is associated with being active and self motivated), people with it feel the need to take action where others well-being is concerned. This could explain why Squall, despite his “leave me the fuck alone” Taurus misgivings and cautions, still steps up to a leadership role and does the job well, because if there’s one thing Tauruses hate, it’s shoddy workmanship. We will toil for hours to fix something the person prior to us fucked up, and because our hands have been on it, poor quality might reflect back on us, which is unacceptable. I also may not like Rinoa as a character (she’s more of a plot device), but there’s no doubt Squall is devoted to her.
The combination of Taurus and Cancer is pretty volatile, and it explains why we see Squall both fighting his rival with little expression on his face (until Seifer manages to break through the shell and piss him off by cheating) and then completely aloof after the battle. There’s also his impulsive need to rescue Rinoa when it’s discovered she’s a sorceress, him taking her comatose body and attempting to walk to Esthar to get her the help she needs, and his outburst when he thinks she’s going to die.
Taurus is a Fixed sign, which gives traits such as stubbornness, rigidity, and single-mindedness, whereas Cancer is Cardinal, which I explained above. As someone with opposing signs as well (Moon in Libra ya’ll), I completely understand the torture of being pulled in two directions and having your emotions go on overload even as you’re trying to contain them to constantly show the world a cool, controlled facade, because you know you’re like a sleeping volcano. It takes a great deal to rile you up, but once it occurs, no one is safe from the riotous fire and the burning ash.
Alignment: Lawful Good – Being a student of a military school that dispatches their graduates for contracts (aka pay), you might think Squall is more Lawful Neutral, but while I agree the Garden system has become that way due to the Garden Masters who are in it for the money, which, at least for Balamb Garden, is pretty anathema considering Norg is of the Shumi Tribe. Given that Squall defeats (if not kills Norg, since you no longer see him after the encounter), it’s safe to say his alignment does not coincide with the greedy Master whose idea it was to hire the Garden’s students out as mercenaries anyway. Garden was founded in order to fight the sorceress, not make a profit, though it’s understandable to find someway to bring in income.
There’s a great deal of irony in Final Fantasy VIII that I’ll explore when I (re)play and review it, but Squall is pretty clearly Lawful Good even if he also keeps those feelings under wraps. While it’s clear he’s initially annoyed with Rinoa and her haphazard plans (as any Taurus would be), he still sticks around after the terms of the contract are up out of possible devotion that eventually leads to romantic interest.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ISTJ (Introversion-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) – Squall is the introvert of introverts. It would be adorable to see him and Cecil sitting down for tea, because I think they would get each other and become friends, obviously bonding over their soldier/warrior and leadership roles (sounds like a fanfic someone should write). I’ve discussed his introversion at length in my Zodiac section, so I think it’s fairly well established.
Squall isn’t much of a dreamer, ironically enough in a game that focuses on dreams of the past, but besides his reoccurring nightmare of loneliness and the mind of Laguna he’s forced into, VIII’s main character is practical; facts, figures, and tactics oriented; and focused on reality. While he inwardly laments that he is all alone, he also accepts the truth of it and is not easily drawn out of his shell. He’s not going to be your friend just because you want him to, because in his experience people leave and at the end of the day you only have yourself to rely on.
The Sensing goes hand in hand with the Thinking, and I’m recalling the point in the game where you have the option of Squall essentially chewing Rinoa out for how disorganized her group is. It’s only mean because it’s so direct without care for the emotional harm it’s going to cause. He’s literally telling her all of the issues with her strategies as someone who knows how to strategize, but Rinoa isn’t level-headed enough to understand that, plus she’s way more open with her emotions so she very reasonably is hurt by what she sees as caustic words, but Squall interprets as rational, if impersonal, reasoning. This is not to say that Squall isn’t emotional (as I’ve covered above), but he’s still in the “hiding my emotions” phase where the aloof mask is firmly in place before anything happens to shake it. His annoyance with Rinoa is the annoyance of someone who knows how to properly execute a plan, and, one; doesn’t comprehend how they succeeded without help for so long, and two; can’t get why his advice wasn’t taken for how straightforward and emotionless he believes it to be.
Squall is another Judger. Making plans and sticking to rules is part and parcel of being in a military academy, and it fits well with his Taurus tendencies. To refer back to the above, there’s an option for him not to continue on with his dressing down where he says something along the lines of, “That should settle it,” because he’s said what he’s needed to say and the matter is done. This is what he’d prefer, because it ideally shouldn’t leave any annoying, lingering emotion, but of course it does because bluntness and directness in addressing what someone is passionate about can be devastating (it’s why I try my hardest not to be a douche if I’m giving critiques or reviews. This has met with moderate success), but Squall knows military strategy so well he’s become an expert at looking at it without any emotional bent. Rinoa is trying to liberate Timber from Galbadian occupation. While it may just be another job to Squall, it’s much more than that to Rinoa, so his judgment comes off as insensitive and callous, and it’s actually more illogical not to take emotions into account, which can happen when you’re too judgmental.
Diagnosis: Squall’s abandonment issues explain pretty much everything about him along with his Taurus sign. They both feed off of the other. He’s been both left alone and left without Ellone, the former since he was a baby. His mother died in childbirth and his father never even knew he existed. When Raine succumbed both the infant Squall (which is a pretty appropriate pun name for a baby and if fits him later as an adult with more of the definition of “tempest”) and Ellone were sent to Edea’s Orphanage on the secluded cape where he was never adopted, possibly due to his reclusive personality, which could’ve grown out of the very situation he was in. When Ellone, whom he referred to as “Sis,” left, this probably solidified his belief that he’d be forever abandoned (though she didn’t leave of her own volition, but was rather fleeing from confinement due to her gift), and, because of this, he should never let anyone in to forestall the devastation of such a state.
Since abandonment fears can stem from childhood loss and lack of adequate physical and emotional care, Squall’s personality and mannerisms make sense on a psychological level. Such fears can make it difficult to form interpersonal relationships, which is clearly seen in Squall who initially shuns all offers of friendship and doesn’t appear to have any interest in romance until Rinoa comes along. I’ll have more to say about the pros and cons of their relationship when I review/analyze the game fully, but while a good portion of their dealings are contrived (there’s a “love at first site” paradigm we see at the SeeD ball), it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility for an outgoing and overly optimistic personality to bring a withdrawn and rational individual out of their shell.
What do you think of my assessments of this character? Do you agree? Disagree? Would you pick another Major Arcana, astrological sign, alignment, MBTI, and/or diagnosis? Let’s discuss in the comments and let me know whom you want me to do next!